Leaving Space for Small Inspirations in My Writing

I’m not a very organized writer. Far from it, in fact. That’s not to say that I don’t plan ahead in any manner or have an outline… well, “outline” is giving it too much credit. It would be better described as a start point, and end point, and a to-do checklist of important markers that ensure that I stay on the rails and keep a linear narrative.

Chapter notes

My checklist for what needs to happen in a chapter.

The rest of my writing is what I once heard a peer Jeremy TeGrotenhuis refer to as Discovery Writing. He has a college degree tangential to writing. I have one more involved with upsetting end users with bad UI design, so I tend to trust that discovery writing is an actual thing.

In a “big picture” sense, I start with a story in my head, typically birthed from the intersection of a number of influences. I also begin with my primary protagonist and antagonist, along with any supporting characters that I feel are required for the story, starting with supporting characters needed to offset deficiencies in the major characters or who can speak to the audience where a major character can’t. The rest is left to discovery writing, fed in no small part by leaving myself open to continued inspirations.

Often, this comes from being involved in an active writer’s groups such as this one and not only from their critiques and discussions around my submitted work, but also their submitted work. A personality trait exhibited by one of their characters, an environment or the wordcraft the author uses to portray it, and other bits have worked their way into the details of my own stories.


A creation of a student that has inspired a creature in my current book.

At other times, classroom sketches done by my students, who are all Elementary-aged, and the Lego creations of my own children have become inspiration for alter-dimensional creatures. The idiosyncrasies and peculiarities I notice in the people I pass in transit on any given day also regularly influence story details. I have had a heavy interest in street photography for some time and feel that the influence I derived from observing random strangers there I apply in equal measure with my writing. The only difference is that instead of their positions relative to each other and motions, I pay closer attention to their communicative interactions.

Because I only plan the major points of a story at the outset, I am able to implement each of these small inspirations as the come, sometimes frequently, without them feeling rushed, forced, or as if they came from left-field. They become the creative fuel I use to drive between the major markers that I have laid out and, I feel, results in a story that reads with more realism.